Divorce is common. We all know someone who has decided to end their marriage or someone whose partner has filed for divorce. It seems messy, uncomfortable and expensive. However, if you have never gone through the process, you may not know what it actually entails. Ending your marriage can be daunting and confusing but this article will help to guide you.
Here are five things you need to do in the early stages.
File a petition in court
One spouse will have to file a petition asking for a divorce. It will need to state the grounds for the divorce. Most states allow no-fault divorces which allow you to state something like “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split. Some states may require a “fault” or specific reason like adultery or abuse. Your lawyer will be able to guide you in the correct procedures for your state.
File for temporary support or custody orders
If one partner relies on the other for financial support or they will have custody of their offspring, they may apply for a support or custody order. Let’s say a housewife or stay-at-home mother files for divorce. She may need temporary orders so she can continue to pay the bills and take care of the child or children. This order would be in place until the couple gets a full hearing in court.
File proof of service of process
The partner who files for divorce also needs to file a document as proof of service of process. This shows that the other partner received a copy of the divorce petition. The filing partner can have their attorney give it to the attorney of the other person.
File a response to the petition
The spouse who receives the copy of the divorce petition needs to file a response. If fault was attributed in the petition, they may want to comment on them. They may dispute the allegations or seek to defend them. They may also want to respond to issues of support, custody or property division.
At this point, the two parties may disagree on some things. The court may direct them to mediate in order to find common ground. If custody issues are involved, someone may be appointed to act on behalf of the children. Social workers may also evaluate the family. The attorneys for each party will help them to work towards an outcome that is acceptable.
Of course, negotiation does not always work. The matter may end up going to trial. This will take longer and cost more than a settlement. It also may not bring about the desired result so divorce attorneys usually try to avoid it. In the end, an order of dissolution is issued to bring an end to the marriage and set out issues of property division, custody, and support. The order can be drafted by the parties and given to the judge for approval if they both agree to the terms.
Divorce can be time-consuming and emotionally draining and financially challenging. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce or your spouse has just served you with papers, take your time and get familiar with all the steps. Hire a competent attorney to help you through the process.